The "times" of Isaiah

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Thu Sep 23 17:17:58 EDT 1999

Max Rogland wrote:

>> > 240 QATALs with future meaning.
>> > 201 QATALs with present meaning (including 22% with the words "Thus
>>says YHWH")
>> > (This means that 41% of all qatals are somewhat problematic.)
>        The _koh 'amar yhwh_ formula is in fact a past tense, not a
>        performative utterance in the third person (which can occur under
>        limited conditions).  J. Krispenz has noted that in a number of
>        cases the formula occurs with the prepositional phrase "to me",
>        and writes: "Versucht man, die Botenformel in dieser Gestalt als
>        Koinzidenzfall zu verstehen, so ergibt sich, dass dann nicht nur
>        Sprechen und Handeln sowie Sprecher und Subjekt identisch sind,
>        sondern dass hier Sprecher, Subjekt und Angeredeter in eins
>        fallen.  Der Prophet spricht in der Rolle Jahwes den Propheten an
>        -- eine bizarre Konstruktion!" ("Grammatik und Theologie in der
>        Botenformel", ZAH 11.2 [1998] 133-139, p.137).
>> > 34 WAYYIQTOLs with future meaning.
>> > 37 WAYYIQTOLs with present meaning.
>        Would it be possible to get a listing of these qatals/wayyiqtols
>        with future or present meaning?  I'm curious to see how it would
>        agree or disagree with my own analysis.

Dear Max,

I agree with your quote from Krispenz, that in contexts with "to me" the
_koh 'amar yhwh_ formula does not have a present meaning, but rather a
perfect or past meaning. However, I think we should distinguish between
"past tense" (=grammaticalized location in time) and "past meaning"
(location in time based on either pragmatic or semantic factors). In some
cases  the _koh 'amar yhwh_ formula evidently represents God's "voice" and
must have a present meaning. Based on such examples I think that most of
the occurences of the formula have present meaning.

At present I am slowly working my way through the whole Bible, while I make
lists of all the "anaomalous" forms. After I have gathered all my examples,
I will scrutinize them a second time while I get comments from my close
collegues, and then I am ready to send a list to others. As a scholar
working with the text, I think you understand that I am not ready to share
my material with others at "the first catch", so to speak. But I will
allways happy to exchange opinions.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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